How to: Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

My lovely friend and fellow adventure-mad lady Karina Kold tells all about her hike to the lost city of the Incas, how to follow the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu and what to pack in your rucksack.

Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu how to

Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu

My first New Year resolution was to complete a four-day hike in the Peruvian mountains near Cuzco, following the famous Inca Trail to one of the new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu.

My gang of hikers inclueded ten travellers, two guides, eight porters carrying tents and food and a chef who cooked us delicious meals every day.

At night we’d crawled into tents and listen to rain drops falling hard on the canvas, before falling asleep tired from hours of hiking up and down the steep stairs of stone covered trails, which were taking us deeper and deeper into the rainforest, closer to the Incan ruins, our final destination.

Our second day of hiking was by far the hardest, as we moved up from 2,700 to 4,215m. A girl from my group fainted on the way up due to the altitude and ended up being so sick she had to go back to Cuzco, and I had to slow my pace right down to carry on, pausing often to catch my breath – my body’s obviously used to the nice flat plains of Denmark! It took a magic combination of positive thinking and a Peruvian secret, coca candy, to get to the top.

Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu how to

Arriving at Machu Picchu on Day four was a mixed experience. It’s so beautiful, but there are a lot of other people sharing the view with you. We woke up at 3:30am to be one of the first groups to get that magnificent, breathtaking vista at 7am, but there were already lots of guided tours there, people who had skipped the incredible hike and taken a bus instead. It wasn’t hard to tell who hadn’t hiked, as they’d invariably be wearing much cleaner clothes!

Even if we couldn’t have it to ourselves, Machu Picchu was breathtaking. Half of the Incan town was covered in clouds, which reminds you of how high up you are. It’s amazing to think that the site was only discovered in 1911 – Machu means ‘old’, and Picchu ‘mountain’, and scholars say some 500 Cuscuenas used to live up here, and what a view of the rainforest covered mountains all around they must have woken up to back then.

It felt great to challenge myself and the four days of hiking at altitude just made the final prize even better. I can’t wait for next year’s New Year resolution.

KARINA’S GUIDE: WHAT TO PACK FOR MACCHU PICCHU

Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu how to

-Coca candy
-Diamox, for high altitude sickness
-Headlamp
-Good hiking boots
-Waterproof trousers and jacket
-Warm hat for cold nights in the mountains
-Sunscreen – the UV is powerful high up
-Cleansing wipes and hand cleaning gel
-Water bottle
-Woolen underwear, as it keeps you warm and also dries fast if it’s been wet
-Extra socks
-Chocolate bars
-Hiking sticks (these can be rented)

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2 Comments

  1. February 21, 2014 / 1:27 pm

    Cool article – I’m doing the trek in July so I’ll be sure to invest in some Coca Candy. Shame it’s so busy; I expect when I do it will be fairly peak too, but I think it’s the hike I’m most looking forward too.

  2. sian
    Author
    February 21, 2014 / 2:03 pm

    Hi Ben! Definitely sounds like the hike is the best bit of the experience, and I’m sure if you time your arrival at Macchu Pichhu for early morning you’ll get some relative peace and quiet. They also sell coca leaves loose in South America if you want to try chewing them like the locals do. Let me know how your trek goes!